Dunedin worst for crashes

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Statistically, Dunedin is New Zealand's worst city for motor vehicle crashes and casualties but authorities say the numbers are dropping.

The Dunedin City Council says it has done all it can to improve the city's intersections, which are the main troublespots.

Dunedin's poor record has emerged from a report released this week by the Ministry of Transport - ''Motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand 2011'' - which compiled data taken from reports by police who attended fatal and injury crashes.

The report includes crashes and casualties by population centre. Dunedin recorded the highest proportion of crash casualties per head of population of all cities.

Last year, the city recorded 364 injury crashes, placing it third behind the larger centres of Auckland (2903) and Christchurch (715).

However, Dunedin had 29 crashes per 10,000 citizens, placing it ahead of Palmerston North (24) and Napier (23).

The same year, the city also recorded the highest number of casualties per 10,000 people (38) ahead of Napier (31), Palmerston North (28) and Hamilton (26).

In 2011 there were four fatal crashes in Dunedin, the lowest of the main centres. The city also recorded the third highest number of total injuries (470) behind Auckland (3685) and Christchurch (913).

Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said the accident rate was reducing and that about half of the city's crashes occurred at intersections.

''We have done some major upgrade of high-risk intersections and technically, we have done as much as we can ... now it is up to the road user to be patient and do what they should be doing; don't jaywalk; turn when you are supposed to, and don't go through orange lights.''

In addition Dunedin had ''unique climatic conditions,'' and was over-represented in some areas, such as the number of young people who chose to study in the city.

A New Zealand Transport Association road safety report 2006-10 was presented to the council's infrastructure services committee, which showed accident and casualty rates in the city were reducing.

Southern District Road Policing Manager Inspector Andrew Burns said ''One of the contributing factors to the higher figures for Dunedin is that there is a greater level of compliance for crash reporting and every crash is documented''.

''Police gather as much information on crashes as we can so that we can task our staff to the places of highest risk.

''With this approach, we have seen that crashes have been reducing steadily.''

Clutha and Southland districts recorded a high number of crashes per 10,000 people - 46 and 48 respectively, followed by Waitaki (39) and Queenstown-Lakes (30).

Nationally there were 259 fatal road crashes, 9545 injury crashes, 284 deaths, and a total of 12,574 people injured in motor vehicle accidents last year.


Crash causes

One of the worst examples of bad driving in Dunedin is the habit of buses and trucks to turn left from the right lane thus cutting off vehicles in the left lane. An example is Frederick St. when buses turn South into George St. According to the lane markings this is illegal from the right-hand lane. The problem is aggravated by the ridiculously large bus size. Police are never to be seen to check this law-breaking.

The worst I have seen

I have lived in Dunedin all my life and been driving for 30 of them. I have found that a lot of Dunedin drivers have no idea what an indicator is or any idea of roundabout rules - this includes taxi drivers and some police. And don't get me started on truck drivers who seem to have no idea what they are meant to do at a red light, or what a speed limit is!

To be honest, I am really surprised that there are not more accidents in this lovely city of ours.

Improve the driving standard

Whilst I agree with previous comments, it should be possible to drive safely on even the worst roads.
As a certified advanced driver, UK Police trained, I have campaigned hard to improve the driving standard and create 'thinking and planning drivers'. This needs to be driven from the top and include the Ministry, ACC, NZTA and the Police.
My extensive campaign to improve things eventually led me to a meeting in Wellington with ACC, NZTA, the AA and the Police. However, the meeting was cancelled when the ACC person employed to deal with road safety left and was not replaced!
I have pretty well given up trying to improve the driving standard because there is absolutely no will to do so in NZ. [Abridged]


No-one is blaming victims

Hank Weiss suggests the DCC are blaming the victms of road accidents. Clearly not what is being said at all. You can only do so much, and road users (be they pedestrians, cyclists or motorists) need to take responsibility for their actions.

People get hurt running red lights, not because the intersection is unsafe, but because people run red lights. Same applies to pedestrians who walk in front of vehicles when they shouldn't.

Yes there are genuinely innocent victims of traffic accidents a lot of the time, but I suggest that in the majority of instances the accident occurs because of bad driving, poor judgement or some other human failure, not the road/intersection itself.

Dunedin drivers . . .

. . . is what our family refer to bad drivers as. 

I see an absurd amount of bad driving on the roads, and have given up reporting it to the Police/telling them about common hotspots as they don't seem to do anything, or have the manpower to be everywhere.

Go out to St Clair Esplainade (one of many such places) and watch how many drivers never stop at the stop sign outside the St Clair hotel. I got so annoyed by it one day that I went down to Central Police Station to ask them to monitor it. 

What this country needs is for every single person with a licence to have to resit it every ten-fifteen years or so. The failure rate would be astronomical - but the roads would be ever so slightly safer. 

Plenty of arrows remaining

It's disappointing to hear the Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer say "technically, we have done as much as we can ..." and then leave it to road users to do the rest. This is all too typical "blame the victim" mentality that does little to improve road safety. While all road users do share responsibility for safety, study after study shows that simply encouraging better behaviour through words and informational campaigns has little effect. It is wishful thinking that alone will change Dunedin's dubious rankings.

Mr. Minema and his team have done a fine job in several areas upgrading intersection facilities, but to say they have done as much as they can is pretty much a cop out. For example, lowering speeds across the roading network remains the single most important change that can be made to immediate and major effect. Slowing down intersection speeds through more stop signs and fewer give-ways is another partial solution. A broader effort to encourage less car use can reduce crash and injury rates while producing many other savings. Dunedin also has a long way to go to make the city safer for cycling because engineers have ignored the need to separate cyclists from busy traffic on the busiest arterials for far too long, as recent tragic events have made clear.

There are plenty of arrows remaining in the traffic safety engineering quivers, if used and aimed correctly. Let us not lay all the responsibility on the users of the road system or we will miss important opportunities for continued improvement.

Big city lessons good for a small one

Courtesy is the key ingredient missing from Dunedin's roads. We are needlessly causing people to wait at intersections, underpass on the motorways, and wait much longer to get anywhere. Be courteous, let people in front of you - traffic flow increases markedly and everyone feels good.

A few things Dunedinites are very poor at:

Keep left unless passing: If there are 2 lanes, keep the right one clear in case someone wants to get by. You will be run off the road in other countries for hogging the 'fast lane'.

Let people on to the road: On the one way systems, why do Dunedinites bimble along in the outside lanes preventing people joining the road? If you see someone stopped at a give-way waiting to get on to the road, change lanes so they are able to enter the stream.

Let people change lanes: A simple but effective way to ensure traffic flows most effectively. Generally those that are courteous enough to let someone in will get a nice wave and there's your good deed done for the day.

These are 3 simple situations that would turn Dunedin from being a very immature place to drive to one that will match any city in the world. If we are trying to attract visitors, we need to grow up a bit, and show them that we are not all spiteful children on the road. [abridged]

Dunedin drivers

As I have commented many times, the drivers in Dunedin have to be the worst in NZ.

Making a comparison with Auckland where we used to live would give some idea of how bad things here are. In Auckland, on average I might have seen one driver a month go over the centre line. In Dunedin on average I would see 10 each day. In Auckland, I would see maybe two drivers a day not give way, in Dunedin I would see about six. Tailgating - Auckland, maybe one a day, Dunedin about six a day.

The next most obvious thing is lack of police presence on the main roads. Have a look at Portsmouth Drive in the mornings, where almost no-one indicates lane changes, either travel far too fast or far too slow. Yet in about 6 years living here I have never seen a police officer actively monitoring the road and ticketing drivers.

Lastly - red light/orange light running. In Dunedin almost every light change at least two or three vehicles speed through the orange light, with usually at least one speeding through the red light. Portsmouth Drive, Andersons Bay Rd, and the intersection by the Railway Station are the worst. What has been done about this? Very little if anything. [abridged]

Bad weather and young people

Are climate and a young cohort seriously contributing to Dunedin's mva stats? It's called bad driving.

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